Monday, August 16, 2010

Bar-Headed Goose

For the untrained; you would probably loss consciousness within minutes, assuming you didn't freeze first. The air is so thin helicopters cannot fly there.

These birds fly higher than Everest, faster than most cars and do it all on a diet of barley, rice and wheat. Shame on you, O homo sapiensss~~

Every year these geese are triggered by their biological alarm to fly over the Himalayas. No one knows exactly how they direct their route and always end up at the right place, and at the right time~~

Migration route of the Bar-headed Goose

Up on the Himalayas the pressure is merely 30% of that at sea level, and thus with each breath you take you'd only take in 30% of the oxygen you'd normally have at sea level, and that's the reason why kerosene cannot burn there. For the untrained; you would probably loss consciousness within minutes, assuming you didn't freeze first. The air is so thin helicopters cannot fly there.

Anatomy of the bird

The bar-headed goose has a slightly larger wing area than other geese. This is probably why they could fly higher with less energy, because larger wing area creates more lift per energy consumed. Moreover, they are protected by a layer of thick feathers, which prevents heat loss so that they won't freeze to death up on the peak of Everest.

Mount Everest is so cold you'd suffer from frostbite

Another interesting fact is that their haemoglobin has higher oxygen affinity, which means oxygen molecules could attach easier to their red blood cell. This is particularly important because the efficiency of their blood system determines their survival in an environment so deprive of oxygen.

Studies have found that they breathe more efficiently under low oxygen conditions. They take in more air than other geese, and that simply means more oxygen. Their flight muscles had more capillaries, and with higher concentration of mitochondria, too.

Other high flying birds

You may be wondering why am I writing this topic today. Well, many of us simply do not understand the amazing ability of these birds. Flying at an attitude of 9000 meters, and covering almost 1000 miles a day during migration, these birds are truly awesome athletes. We, on the other hand, would freeze to death up on the Everest (the summit averages -36° C ), let alone talking about covering 1000 miles a day.

But this species is not the highest flying bird in the world. The highest recorded flying bird was a vulture called Ruppell's griffon flying at a staggering 11552 meters(that's almost reaching the top of our troposphere).

Ruppell's griffon vulture

The feat was recorded in 1975 when one unlucky vulture got sucked into a jet engine o.O the plane suffered engine damage but was able to land safely.

Whooper swan

Other birds that fly routinely fly higher than Mount Everest include whooper swans and bar-tailed godwits.

Bar-tailed godwits

The highest flying bird in North America was recorded in 1963 when a mallard hit an airplane flying at 21,000 feet (6,401 meters) over Nevada.

Mallard duck

Birds are a constant menace for the airline industry

The Arctic Tern, on the other hand, has the longest-distance migration of any bird, and sees more daylight than any other.

Arctic Tern

It moves from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic non-breeding areas(literally from the North pole to the South pole!), covering over 22,000 km (14,000 miles) in three months.

Migration route of the Arctic Tern

This simply shows that we are nothing when it comes to physical competition with animals, and we are no better than birds. These marathon athletes are the real olympians. We aren't =.=

Are you kidding me...?


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